Welcome to another edition of Target Acquired. If you’re new to the series, let me catch you up. Dynasty strategy has many layers to it, but one of the more fun aspects of it all is player research and analysis. And whether you play in devy leagues, “normal” dynasty leagues, or just love college football, it’s a blast to dig into some of the best NFL prospects in the country. This series takes a look every week at a mix of college football players who just bolstered their chances of making it to the pros with a stellar performance.
Some will be names you recognize. Others will be the deepest of sleepers that no one knew until yesterday. Regardless, the point is to tuck these names away as your prepare for all of your drafts, trades, and just-for-fun research in the future.
The draft gets closer every day, and I have my set of “Targets Acquired” for any and every format out there.
Will Grier, West Virginia
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As we progress deeper into the college football season it becomes increasingly difficult to be surprised by any quarterback’s performance, but this guy needs to be celebrated. West Virginia was down by 18 to Texas Tech with just about five minutes to go in the third quarter, but then it happened.
Grier kicked it into another gear and threw four touchdowns in the last 20 minutes of the game to miraculously pull off the win. Grier finished with 352 yards and five scores. That brought his season totals up to 2092 yards and 21 touchdowns. Grier still probably won’t be drafted (if he ever is) until 2019, but could very well be a fantastic sleeper and late round rookie quarterback value one day.
Karan Higdon, Michigan
It’s been a strange season for the Michigan offense. They have used a mix of three different running backs between Karan, Chris Evans, and Ty Isaac. The wide receivers have been far from consistent. Through six games, no one on the team has more than 18 receptions and the team only has four total passing touchdowns. However, the Wolverines may have finally found the running back to carry them to victory.
Higdon’s competition at running back carried the ball 17 times for just 63 yards. Higdon ran for 200 yards and three scores on 25 carries. Although he doesn’t boast feature back size, Karan makes up for it with great vision and elusiveness. If Michigan begins to ride Karan down the stretch he could be quite the coveted devy player and future NFL prospect.
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Some were a bit surprised to see Justin Jackson return to Northwestern for his senior year after his 1524-yard 15-touchdown junior season. And that decision initially looked rather foolish this season as Justin’s numbers got off to fairly slow start (with the exception of the Bowling Green State game). Justin needed a statement game to put his name back in the hat for NFL Draft consideration next spring, and that’s exactly what he did against Maryland. Jackson compiled a whopping 171 yards and two touchdowns in this past week’s matchup to help lead Northwestern to a much needed victory.
Jackson is a prospect who looks above average at everything, but not necessarily special at any one thing. If he finishes strong Jackson could hear his name called early on day three of the NFL Draft. If given the proper opportunity, Jackson could produce, but his ceiling is likely no higher than a flex play for fantasy football purposes.
DJ Chark, LSU
DJ Chark’s sleek 6’4” frame is quite reminiscent of a young AJ Green. The way he seemingly glides through each long stride makes for a fun highlight reel. But it’s about time this excessively hyped wide receiver started making plays.
Prior to this past week Chark had only made a few splash plays, but he really took off against Auburn with five catches and 150 yards. Chark also flashed in the return game as he took his second punt return of the year back for a huge game-changing touchdown. Chark possesses some fun physical tools, but would help his future NFL Draft stock if he continued to string a few big games together this season.
AJ Brown, Ole Miss
Most devy fantasy football owners are already well acquainted with AJ Brown, but still admire his teammate DeKaylin Metcalf much more. I’m here to tell you that while Metcalf may possess the superior athleticism, Brown looks like the more complete wide receiver prospect already as a sophomore. If you have drank the DK-Koolaid yourself and don’t believe me just take a look at AJ’s production.
AJ added eight receptions, 174 yards, and two touchdowns to his total of 35 receptions, 678 yards and six scores in just five games this season. Brown has been absolutely dominant. He works his way deep much faster than expected given his thicker build and finds holes in the defense like a veteran wide receiver. Once the dust clears after 2017 people may finally start to place Brown near the top of their 2019 NFL Draft eligible draft lists.
Tyler Petite, USC
If tight ends like Tyler Petite start putting together a few more performances like his game against Utah this last week, the 2018 class might not be too shabby after all. Petite’s 52-yard touchdown was the longest play of the game, but that wasn’t good enough for him apparently. He had to score again later in the game just for good measure.
Tyler has not exactly lit it up on the stat sheet for USC like some thought he might, but he projects to be a rather balanced pro prospect at the position. Petite will likely elect to return for another season at USC, but if he doesn’t expect to see him find a professional home early on day three of the NFL Draft next spring.
IDP (Individual Defensive Player)
Devin White, LB LSU
I don’t generally like including more than one player from the same team in this series, but LSU’s Devin White can no longer be ignored. Devin’s teammate Arden Key has hogged most of the spotlight in Baton Rouge on the defensive side of the ball lately. However, White’s looking like he may be the team’s defensive star very soon.
White logged his fifth consecutive game of 11 combined tackles or more in the triumph over Auburn last weekend in the battle of the Tigers. White logged six solo tackles, a couple for loss, and a sack. At 6’1”, 250 pounds Devin boasts legit pro size. Keep his name in your back pocket for devy and rookie drafts next season.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s Target Acquired. Let me know if you have any questions on any of these guys. If you want me to watch any specific upcoming games closer than others just let me know via Twitter @FF_TravisM. Best of luck to you in all of your fantasy leagues!